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Hearings begin on tax increase
Commission also looks at budget adjustments
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners held the first of three public hearings on a proposed property tax increase Tuesday, and also discussed possible corrections to the mid-year 2008 budget.

About 30 people attended the hearing, but just one voiced concern.

"I don't see why Forsyth County can't find a way to keep these taxes down," said Cumming resident David Oberg. "I love parks as much as the next person. But I'm not sure this is the right time to spend hard-earned dollars on projects like this."

The new proposed bond rate, which at 1.196 mills is more than double the 2007 rate, is a result of the $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond voters approved in February.

A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Two more public hearings will be held at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. July 17 in the county administration building.

The possible tax increase would affect the county's budget, which was discussed in a commission work session that followed the public hearing.

The county's maintenance and operations levy is projected to hold steady at 3.83 mills. Factoring in the estimated school tax increase, however, the overall net millage is projected at 23.854 mills.

District Attorney Penny Penn and Chief Voter Registrar Gary J. Smith each asked the board for additional funding in their respective departments.

Penn said her office is several months behind because of an increased caseload and the need for additional staff. She asked the commission if another county-funded prosecutor was a possibility. Annual salary for the position would be $71,000.

Smith is seeking an increase in security operations for certain polling locations, as well as additional poll books, which could total about $25,000.

Commissioners heard the requests but decided to take no action on budget adjustments until an Aug. 12 work session, when they plan to review all budget amendments.

"There will be other people's budgets we have to make amendments to," said County Manager Rhonda O'Connor. "It would be better to do them all at once rather than piecemeal."

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse agreed, making the motion to postpone all budget amendment requests until next month.